Striking Out

Robert Lamb, Author Permanent Press (NY) $28 (264p) ISBN 978-1-877946-06-6
Lamb's debut novel is a modest, unsurprising but intermittently appealing coming-of-age story set in the South during the 1950s. The narrator, 18-year-old virgin Benny Blake, is an outsider in high school, fearful that he is doomed to strike out in all areas of his life, particularly romance. Lamb traces his protagonist's various amorous mishaps, and although Benny's erotic obsessions are repetitiously described, his inability to lose his virginity with either an Italian girl planning to become a nun or a tease named Austin are comical. As Benny also deals with the aggressive hostility of the Catholic boys from ``the Hill,'' his religious friend Glenn comes to terms with alcoholism in his family. Capturing the bittersweet quality of a teenager's confusion, Lamb depicts Benny's abrupt separation from a girl named Cherry, whose rich parents are outraged by her involvement with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and his initiation into sex with an older woman on the beach just before he joins the Navy. While he maintains fidelity to teenage jargon, Lamb often loses the reader in jejune dialogue. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1991
Release date: 08/01/1991
Paperback - 978-1-877946-22-6
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